The Language of the Heart

From: Robert Schneider <>
Date: Sat Apr 02 2005 - 20:27:53 EST

A few hours after Pope John Paul II died, Paula Zahn interviewed Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, a long time friend of the pope and columnist for the "New York Times Magazine," who relayed a coversation he had with him while he was still Karol Cardinal Wojtyla. Before telling the story, let me remind everyone that this man was a poet, actor, playwright, and student of philosophy. And he was probably the most scientifically literate pope of the 20th century. He formed the commission that reviewed the Galileo case and exonerated him. And under his aegis, the Vatican Observatory with CTNS sponsored a series of international conferences, beginning in 1989, on science and theology, covering such topics as quantum cosmology, chaos and complexity, evolutionary and molecular biology, and neuroscience and the human person. His address at the first meeting is a remarkable statement about the relations of the Bible, Christian faith, and natural science. And in 1996, in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to open the conferences on evolutionary biology, John Paul II stated that Catholics may accept the theory of evolution.

Here's the story Msgr. Albacete told. He and Cardinal Wojtyla were conversing one day and the future pope asked him, "What is the language of the heart?" Then he answered his own question: "It is not the language of science. There is a danger that science will reduce the heart to mechanics. No, the language of the heart is poetry, myth, symbol, and drama."

I think these also constitute the language of theology. When all of our reasoned attempts to put the mysteries of Christian faith in comprehensible language come to their feeble ends, we can only move forward with the language of poetry, myth, symbol, and drama (as the writers of Holy Scripture knew very well). And taking one more step--into silence: listening, we hear beating the heart of God.

Received on Sat Apr 2 20:30:26 2005

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